BARNEGAT, NJ – Barnegat Mayor John Novak was a guest speaker at a Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce meeting in the start of 2020. He used his time slot to make use of a clever play on words and share his views on Barnegat Township.
The municipality that sits between Stafford and Ocean continues to bear the aftereffects of a rather undignified and seemingly undeserved moniker. Novak has created his own version of the nickname that distinguishes Barnegat as a place to live and work. He merely added a letter to the township’s name.
“I’ve coined the phrase “Barnegreat” because it’s what I think of our great town,” shared Novak.
No doubt that the Barnegat of today is far different from the Barnegat of yesteryear. Times have changed since the days of a town with a single traffic light. Many are viewed as improvements. What follows are fifty reasons why Barnegat is great – in no particular order.
1. Barnegat is the fastest growing town in Ocean County, with a population gain of over 2 percent just last year.
2. The average assessed value for a home in Barnegat is $235,000. The portion of taxes from the municipality’s operating budget alone equated to a $23.50 average annual increase in 2020.
3. Water bills are lower in Barnegat than in neighboring communities.
4. Over 55 communities make up 31 percent of the tax revenue base in Barnegat. Homeowners in the senior developments are prohibited from sending children to the public-school district. They are not exempt from school taxes.
5. Barnegat just replaced its Public Works building and will soon begin construction of a new municipal complex. The Public Works facility went up without the need to borrow or secure financing of any kind. Low interest rate bonds are financing the municipal complex. No additional cost to local taxpayers on either improvement.
6. D.R. Horton and Lennar Homes are two national home builders who have selected Barnegat as desirable real estate markets.
7. Barnegat 67 is a mixed-use property that features rentals for over 55 tenants. It is also home to a number of retail establishments, as well as restaurants, a gym, and physical therapy group.
8. The township’s recreation department schedules an assortment of activities throughout the year. They include concerts and movies at the Barnegat Docks, where fishing, crabbing, and boat launching are available. A great Farmer's Market features vendors bearing more than just fruits and vegetables.
9. Legend has it that Barnegat was once a favorite when Captain Kidd ran the mighty seas. The township runs “Pirate’s Day,” a street fair that includes vendors and shows focused on the theme.
10. More than thirty percent of the land in Barnegat is undeveloped and natural untouched woods. The township is also home to a portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
11. The township boasts six recreational parks, as well as a skateboard park. Two county parks offer passive recreation in Barnegat. The Barnegat Rail Trail runs through the municipality for walkers and cyclists.
12. The Barnegat Docks features a rock garden – giving every indication that Barnegat Rocks.
13. Barnegat Bay Beach offers free access for swimmers and sun worshipers. The township replenishes the sand on an annual basis.
14. The Atlantic Ocean is as local as twenty minutes from Barnegat. Family friendly activities are available on Long Beach Island and Ocean County boardwalks.
15. Barnegat has its own radio station. WBNJ plays unforgettable favorites and features news reports and informational segments.
16. Like chowder? Barnegat is home to the restaurant who placed as LBI Chowderfest Grand Champions for three consecutive years.
17. Santa and Mrs. Claus maintain a secret residence in Barnegat. While they make several local appearances during Christmas, both have been spotted incognito during other times throughout the year.
18. Barnegat’s Adopt a Street group was created by two local teenagers and conducts clean ups throughout the year. They tackled a number of new streets this month.
19. The downtown Barnegat area welcomes visitors with an eclectic collection of shops and eateries.
20. A number of Barnegat restaurants also showcase live entertainment. Grab dinner, some simple grub or dessert to take in local talent.
21. Statewide data as provided by the FBI, shows that Barnegat had a lower overall crime rate than any other town in Ocean County of its size.
22. Despite Barnegat’s rapid growth since 1992, the Township’s crime rates are down 75 percent. Notably, the downward trend includes violent and non-violent crimes.
23. Barnegat Police employ a model of neighboring policing that allows residents and law enforcement officers to establish and maintain relationships. The ratio of officers to residents contributes to the municipality’s safety.
24. The rapid response to protecting Barnegat Police during the pandemic marked the department as first with PPEs in Ocean County. The Barnegat police chief uses a personal outreach approach to keep the community advised in critical matters. The department’s efforts were applauded by township resolution.
25. Barnegat’s Police Department is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including vehicles that can be used in emergency flooding situations. All officers are required to wear body cameras and have them activated even during minor calls.
26. The township’s fire department and first aid squad are both manned by dedicated volunteers. Equipment needs are met by the municipal budget.
27. Several organizations throughout the municipality participate in the Barnegat Communities that Cares initiative. The program uses data-driven methods and coordinates efforts to promote positive youth development.
28. People themselves exhibit kindness in Barnegat. A sole anonymous benefactor donated over $3,000 to feed the hungry during the pandemic. Restaurants have cooked up and delivered meals to first responders.
29. The township’s police department hosts a Junior Police Academy that is slated for summer months on an annual basis.
30. Many communities in Barnegat participate in a state program named Firewise. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service and Barnegat Police help put on programs to facilitate proactive prevention tips and wildlife preparedness. Grants are also available to fund implementation of firewise concepts.
31. Within the last two years, the Barnegat school district began several initiatives to make improvements. Barnegat’s Pre-K program provides early education for up to 360 three and four-year old children. There is no cost to parents or taxpayers and the program is housed in a separate school.
32. The township’s school district has instituted a transitional first grade program to provide additional support for at-risk students who have not fully mastered kindergarten stands, but for whom retention is not the solution.
33. Barnegat schools are on the path to one-to-one student access to technology with the provision of Chromebooks. Online resources became available to Barnegat students before the concept of remote learning.
34. High school students have the opportunity to complete as much as their freshman year of college by earning credits as part of a partnership with Ocean County College.
35. The growth and expansion of AP programs at Barnegat High School mark it as one of the best in the county. Additional courses were added last year. Test results show that 73 percent of AP students achieved passing grades on examinations. Nine out of 17 programs beat the state average.
36. The Barnegat Schools utilize a STAR Reading program to promote reading growth. The district also has assigned specialists who review LinkIt data to track deficiencies and suggest improvements on an individual level. These include Master Teachers and Data Coaches.
37. Math and science subject areas have been adapted in the Barnegat schools to provide students with engaging instruction and assessments- focusing on real world applications, critical thinking skills, and inquiry-based problem solving.
38. The Barnegat school district has a robust Gifted and Talented program. A new G&T teacher was added at the elementary school level in 2020.
39. The ROTC program plays an active role within the school district. Peter Toth, a 2020 graduate was the commanding officer last year and was accepted into three military academies. He chose West Point.
40. Graduates of Barnegat High School have gone on to well-regarded institutions of higher learning. Priscilla Pitiak, the school’s 2020 valedictorian, is a student at the University of Michigan, considered one of the nation’s top public ivy colleges.
41. Griffin Jackstadt, another 2020 graduate was scheduled to play for the University of Pennsylvania’s football team before their season was cancelled. He remains a student at the prestigious Ivy League school.
42. Barnegat Schools were recognized as one of the best communities for music education last year. Both their theater productions and marching bands receive high accolades.
43. The Barnegat school district recently unveiled a state-of-the art artificial turf field replacing a natural field that flooded so badly that sports teams had to make alternative practice and games plans.
44. Both the Barnegat High School football team and the middle school team are making fans proud.. Brackman’s Football Team completed a perfect undefeated 5-0 season as the winner of the OCIAL Division Championship.
45. Barnegat football alumni Cinjun Erskine is currently coaching football for nationally ranked IMG academy in Florida, which is a prestigious school that plays on ESPN regularly.
46. The Barnegat High School Varsity Soccer Team is Soccer is currently 7-2-1 working on one of its finest seasons ever. Senior Jilian Jankowski has joined the prestigious 100 Point club in soccer, an accomplishment NO Female Soccer player in school history has ever achieved – breaking all district records for goals and assists.
47. Barnegat High School Girls’ Field Hockey team has cracked the Top 10 in the Shore Conference, for the first time in years. Their record boasts 6-2-1 results, with the only two losses attributed to Point Pleasant Boro, the fourth ranked team.
48. The Barnegat Board of Education presents monthly awards to students designated as Upstanders in each individual school. Nominees have demonstrated their commitment to being kind, as well as dedication to their work.
49. Both the American Legion and VFW play an active role in the community. Not only do they support veterans, but they also interreact with the schools and municipal government.
50. Barnegat’s greatness has everything to do with the people who have made their homes in the community. Residents just need to take a look in the mirror to see what makes Barnegat a great place to live and work.
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